Thursday, February 21, 2013

Books, PantheaCon, and the Joy of Teaching

we got back from PantheaCon on Monday evening, exhausted, but happy. For anyone who is not familiar with PantheaCon, it is a Pagan Convention held in San Jose, CA, over the President's Day weekend each year. It is the largest Pagan event in the US, with some 2,500 attendees, and a ton of fun.

This year, I launched my latest book, "Enchantment: The Witch's Art of Manipulation Through Gesture, Gaze and Glamour", with a workshop of the same name. Arriving fifteen minutes before the start, I almost didn't get in to my own workshop, as the room was full to capacity, and I'm told over 50 people were turned away. The workshop - an overview distilled from the four two-hour workshops I taught in order to put together and test the material for the book - was well received, and a large number of books were sold, both the new one and copies of my other books.

I also taught two other workshops over the weekend. My "Bringing Lore to Life" one was early on Monday morning, but despite that, it was still packed, and apparently I was in fine form, telling tales both classical (the story of Cerridwen and Gwion Back) and personal (tales from the year I carried Sacred King for my tradition). Once again, plenty of books were sold, including all of the remaining copies of Enchantment.

In between my two solo workshops, I had the honor of co-presenting "Working the Well of Magick" with Orion Foxwood. Orion told me that the only other person he has co-presented with is R. J. Stewart, so the pressure was definitely on, but the packed room (the biggest one in PantheaCon) responded well as we shared the art and philosophy of the Well from our different perspective - mine from traditional Witchcraft, his from Faery Seership and Appalachian Conjure. We finished with a group working, where all four hundred and some participants danced the serpentine around well and stang, and threw their coins in the well, and tied a rag or a sttring on the stang. Feedback afterwards was extremely positive, and both Orion and I are keen to co-present more workshops in future.

But PantheaCon isn't just about teaching and selling books... We enjoyed several workshops, notably Christopher Penczak's "The Mighty Dead", and our coveners were blown away by the Morrigan ritual. WE all had a blast listening to Wendy Rule, such an incredible singer! Most importantly, we immersed ourselves in the wonderland that was the vendor room, and spent plenty of time at the bar, people-watching and chatting with friends old and new. Besides time spent with Orion and his fiance Aubrey, we also got to chat with Dave Finnin, Ed Fitch, Dr. E (Rev Hyperion), Tommie Starchild and Dave Shore, Oberyn Kunning, Oriana, Chris Penczak, Mojo and Sparrow from the Wigglian Way, Faelyn, and I was introduced to Selena Fox. Jo-Ann and Tony Mierzwicki were there too - Jo-Ann is my layout artist and self-appointed slave-driver (she bugs me until I get stuff done), and her handsome husband is the best Pagan photographer around, when he isn't busy teaching his own workshops, on Graeco-Egyptian magick and related subjects.

Meanwhile, back at the covenstead, our great experiment with the training coven is doing well. So well, in fact, that it is changing our whole tradition. Now we find that we have a name for our tradition, Y Ffordd Wen ("The Milky Way"... the original crooked path), and several dedicants working towards initiation. The live video streaming for long-distance students continues to work extremely well, and at slightly over half-way through the course, we have had surprisingly few drop-outs, and comparatively little drama. And I can definitely say that we are learning from our students as much as they are learning from us!

Now to start planning for next year, PantheaCon's 20th anniversary!

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